English 190: Introduction to Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture is an introduction to the critical study of film. As the course title indicates, our critical inquiry extends, moreover, toward examination of film in video format, video as alternative to film, and both film and video as productions that take shape and exert impact as principal constituents of an even larger, more widely-encompassing moving-image culture. (However, for the sake of simplicity of expression, I will refer from this point forward in much of the rest of this course explanation statement to 'films' when I am actually describing films, videos, and other kinds of moving-image cultural productions.)
This course is designed neither to teach you how to make your own films, nor to provide you with an opportunity simply to enjoy watching films. We will examine the ways in which films provide pleasure for their audiences. Yet our goal will not be simply to (re)experience these pleasures ourselves, describe what they feel like, and then offer merely impressionistic and purely opinionated reactions on top of these descriptions that recount how far we can or cannot personally identify with and relate to what the films depict and what they attempt to make us feel. Instead, our objective will be to seek to understand how and why films produce these pleasures in the ways that they do-and also to understand what else always happens, simultaneous with the provision of pleasure, as a result of the kinds of pleasures and the ways of providing pleasures films characteristically offer.
We will in fact give considerable attention to the many other effects-other than providing pleasure-that films can and do achieve, whether deliberately so or not. In particular, we will inquire into films as providing us valuable knowledge about the real historical societies and cultures out of which they emerge and into which they exert their impact-even where offering this kind of insight does not constitute a conscious aim of the film makers themselves, and even when we must sharply critique the film's representations in order to produce this knowledge.
Throughout the history of world cinema, three principal objectives have driven forward the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of film:
1. the provision of entertainment, especially as diversion, distraction, and amusement;
2. artistic expression and communication-concerned with aesthetic issues such as capturing and conveying the felt experience of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the everyday and the unusual, and, especially, "the beautiful" and "the sublime"-in both the natural world and human society;
3. social critique-as contribution to, and instrument of, social change.
Many films, as well as many cinemas, aspire to meet two or three of these goals, often employing one as means toward the achievement of at least one of the other two (e.g., artistic expression as a vehicle of social critique). Yet it is still useful, in beginning to come to terms with the aims of different kinds of film and cinema, to recognize these as primarily oriented toward serving one of these three ends. ('Cinema' here refers to a particular institutional form governing the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of a series of films, especially a series of films sharing common subjects, styles, social vantage points, and cultural backgrounds.)
The kinds of pleasures film can provide us in fact come in many forms, at times quite complicated and sophisticated, including those that usefully subvert culturally dominant ways of making sense. Yet Hollywood (along with other, allied sectors of the bottom-line profit-driven, corporate capitalist, multinational conglomerate mass media) often encourages us to approach the pleasure we experience from film primarily, if not exclusively, as a purely escapist form of entertainment. In other words, Hollywood frequently encourages us to retreat from, rather than to confront, understand, and strive to overcome life's problems and difficulties.
Rarely does Hollywood inspire us to believe we can and should act as critical citizens. Critical citizens work both within their local communities and beyond the confines of local, regional, and even national boundaries by collaborating with others who share the same commitments. These commitments involve combating injustice, inequity, discrimination, prejudice, and the other socially systemic and institutionally entrenched forms of violent abuse which so many of our fellow human beings suffer every day of their lives-as well as striving to foster ecologically sustainable relations with the rest of the natural world that we as a species have so miserably failed to "steward."
What's more, even when mainstream media productions do address serious issues, they often do so in reductively simplistic and sentimentally trivializing ways. Usually they don't extend messages quite as trite as "everything always turns out for the best," "don't worry, be happy," "crime never pays," or "good always triumphs over evil," yet they still usually embrace, rather than critique, cultural clichés. For example, a film might suggest that hard work and a positive outlook on life will overcome all obstacles, or that the support of a loving family and true friends should be all we ever need to pick us up when and if we are down and need help, or that heroic individuals can always defeat even the most brutal (ab)uses of state and corporate power.
At the same time, another popular current in contemporary Hollywood film rejects, even mocks, these naive attitudes but does so only to support a cynical view of contemporary social existence as an alienated quest for survival in an essentially selfish, corrupt, and vicious world where might makes right, style (in the sense of superficial "flash" and "glitter") matters far more than substance, and maintaining an outward facade of cool, confident control, along with a pose of proudly defiant self-reliance, always trump manifestations of fellow feeling, shared concern, and social solidarity. In addition, of course, other common trends in contemporary Hollywood involve making films a.) that function as little more than opportunities to demonstrate the look, sound, and feel of the latest special effects technology, or b.) that delight in facile forms of pseudo-comedy-comedy devoid of wit, charm, and even humor-so as to revel in the gross, the mean, and the cruel.
Contemporary Hollywood films often tend, moreover, to discourage us not only from questioning, challenging, and critiquing the social status quo but also from thinking for ourselves as we come to terms with what they represent to us in the course of our experience watching (and listening to) them. These films frequently tell tales that represent "the way things are" as simply "the way they have to be"-or, even more insidious, as "the only way they can and should be." They manufacture worlds that comfort us with infantilizing illusions that we are invited to accept, without question, at least for the duration of a film, as the simple equivalent of "reality" itself. They insert us into positions within the illusory worlds they construct such that we experience no incentive to reflect either upon the process of construction or the meaning of illusion, where we are reassuringly protected from having to confront any genuinely unsettling thoughts or feelings-i.e., thoughts or feelings that linger to trouble us long after the film has ended. These films, moreover, flatter us by providing us with a false sense of our omniscience-false because these films not only do our seeing and hearing for us but also because they attempt to take charge as well of our thinking, feeling, reacting, and responding in relation to virtually everything we encounter from the beginning to the end of the film's running time.
In this course we will reflect critically upon the processes of manipulation I have just recounted as well as examine a number of alternative models of film production and reception that challenge this interpellation of the film spectator-auditor (viewer-listener) into the position of uncritical, passive consumer. We will also consider the contradictions involved in processes of film production, distribution, exhibition, and reception that spark usefully critical engagements with even the most "conservative," "mind-numbing," "desensitizing," and "trivializing" forms of mainstream Hollywood "blockbuster" film.
It is important that we subject film to critical study because, over the course of the past 110 years, audio-visual texts, especially audio-visual texts organized around the moving image, have come to exert an extremely powerful impact upon the shape and substance of individuals' lived experience of their relationship to the conditions of their own existence. This impact is today prospectively as powerful, if not indeed often considerably more powerful, than that exerted by traditional print media. In fact, film, television, video, and "cyberspace" have become principal sites within our contemporary Western societies for the production and dissemination, as well as the reproduction and reinforcement, of meanings, values, ideas, ideologies, and social modes of thinking, understanding, feeling, believing, acting, and interacting, even when presented to us as "sheer entertainment."
This course will begin, first, with a brief introduction to the problematics of representation and reality in film as well to the rudiments of critical media literacy. From that point, we will turn, second, to learn about film makers' use (to express and communicate meaning) of techniques of a.) mise-en-scène, b.) cinematography, c.) editing, and d.) sound. We will here concentrate on particularly influential and innovative uses of these techniques, including representation from "independent" film makers working outside of Hollywood-and beyond the United States (as well as examples from historically significant Hollywood films). After this, we will, third, inquire into principles of film narrative as well as alternatives to the live-action fictional feature, in the latter case exploring documentary, experimental, and animation film making. Throughout these first three sections of the course we will simultaneously examine different ways film makers, working within different types of cinema, construct and convey meaning, as well as how audiences respond to and make sense of film meaning, investigating, in particular, relations between film and culture, and film and ideology. We will engage in an introduction to significant issues of art and aesthetics, economics and politics, and history, theory, and criticism as these play out in moving-image culture studies. Finally, fourth, we will briefly explore alternate directions for the future of the moving-image, along with that of moving-image cultural production and reception. We will here consider interrelations among film, video, television, and digital varieties of technology and media, especially as the last increasingly replaces analogue forms of the recording, storage, processing, and distribution of audio-visual information.
The films I have selected to screen in this course represent a critically acclaimed and historically influential variety. As I see it, one of my principal responsibilities in teaching this course, as an expert in cinema studies, is to introduce you to titles of films, and kinds of film making-as well as ways of interpreting and evaluating films-that you have not encountered before. Most students in the many English 190 classes I have now taught to date express considerable gratitude for me providing them with such an "eye-opening" experience. Therefore, to return to where I started (just in case I have not yet made this point quite evident), no, this is not a class where we simply watch a lot of popular, contemporary "movies" and then chat casually about them afterwards, focusing on what we "like" or not about them, or about how "cool" or not we find them. If you are interested in learning something new, serious, and substantial about film, this is the right place for you; if not, it isn't.
A. The following four required texts are available at the UWEC Bookstore:
* I will attempt to use alternatives to photocopies where possible, but this is not always practical or viable, and students should note well that it takes approximately 80,500 sheets of paper to exhaust one relatively small-sized lumber tree, and with the kind of recyclable paper we regularly use at UWEC, it takes closer to 402,500 sheets. *
T 1/21 Introduction and Orientation. Screening, Mulholland Drive.
W 1/22 Lecture and Discussion: Introduction to Critical Media Literacy; Elements of Meaning; and Representation and Reality in Mulholland Drive.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 1-32 ("Media Literacy" and "Elements of Meaning"); Readings on Mulholland Drive-External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 1/27 Lecture and Discussion: Mise-en-Scène.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 61-71 and 76-90 (Selections, "Mise-en-Scène"); Film: an Introduction, 9-54 ("Mise en Scène"); and The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video, 23-42 ("Rule of Thirds," "Balance-Leading Looks, Masses, Colors," "Angles," "Frames within the Frame," "Leading Lines," "Backgrounds," and "In Search of a Good Composition").
T 1/28 Screening, The Last Temptation of Christ.
W 1/29 Discussion: Mise-en-Scène and The Last Temptation of Christ.
Read for Class: Readings on The Last Temptation of Christ-External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 2/3 Lecture and Discussion: Cinematography, Part One.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 33-60 ("The Camera Eye") and 71-76 (Selections, "Mise-en-Scène": "Lighting"); The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video, 12-20 ("Lenses" and "Depth of Field") and 67-79 ("Camera Moves," "Montages," and "Lighting").
T 2/4 Screening, Orphans and Seconds.
W 2/5 Discussion: Cinematography; Orphans and Seconds.
Read for Class: Readings on Orphans and Seconds-External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 2/10 Lecture and Discussion: Cinematography, Part Two, and Introduction to Art as Defamiliarization.
Read for Class: Film: an Introduction, 55-98 ("Cinematography"); and Shklovsky, "Art as Technique"-Electronic Reserve.
T 2/11 Screening, Apocalypse Now Redux.
W 2/12 Discussion: Cinematography; Art as Defamiliarization; Apocalypse Now Redux.
Read for Class: Readings on Apocalypse Now Redux-External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 2/17 Lecture and Discussion: Editing, Part One, and Introduction to the Categories of Genre, Star, and Auteur in Film Theory and Criticism.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 91-108 ("Editing"); The Bare Bones Camera Course to Film and Video, 43-66 ("Basic Sequence" and "Screen Direction"); and An Introduction to Film Studies, 161-208 ("Genre, Star and Auteur-Critical Approaches to Hollywood Cinema").
T 2/18 Screening, The Maltese Falcon and The Birds.
W 2/19 Discussion: Editing; Genre, Star, Auteur; The Maltese
Falcon and The Birds.
Read for Class: Readings on The Maltese Falcon and The Birds- Photocopies.
M 2/24 Lecture and Discussion: Editing, Part Two, and Introduction to Theories of Film Spectatorship.
Read for Class: Film: an Introduction, 99-140 ("Editing"); An Introduction to Film Studies, 129-160 ("The Film Spectator").
T 2/25 Screening, Memento and Urbania.
W 2/26 Discussion: Editing; Introduction to Theories of Film Spectatorship; Memento and Urbania.
Read for Class: Readings on Memento and Urbania-External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website and Photocopies.
M 3/3 Lecture and Discussion, Sound and an Introduction to 'Third' Cinema.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 109-126 ("Sound"); Film: an Introduction, 141-168 ("Sound"); and Solanas and Gettino, "Towards a Third Cinema"-Electronic Reserve.
T 3/4 Screening, The Battle of Algiers and The Thin Blue Line.
W 3/5 Discussion: Sound; The Battle of Algiers and The Thin Blue Line.
Read for Class: Readings on The Battle of Algiers, and The Thin Blue Line-Photocopies and External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 3/10 Review.
T 3/11 Mid-Term Exam, Part One.
W 3/12 Mid-Term Exam, Part Two.
M 3/24 Lecture and Discussion: Narrative and the Moving-Image.
Read for Class: Film: an Introduction, 261-298 ("Narrative Components of Fictional Films") and An Introduction to Film Studies, 91-128 ("Film Form and Narrative").
T 3/25 Screening, Short Cuts.
W 3/26 Discussion: Narrative and the Moving Image; Short Cuts.
Read for Class: Readings on Short Cuts-Photocopies and External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 3/31 Lecture and Discussion: Animation, and Introduction to Film as Ideology and Ideology Critique.
Read for Class: Film: an Introduction, 340-348 ("Animation" and "T.R.A.N.S.I.T.-A Description"); An Introduction to Film Studies, 237-263 ("Animation: Forms and Meanings"); Althusser, "A Letter on Art to André Daspre"-Electronic Reserve; and Nielsen, "The Concept of Ideology: Some Marxist and Non-Marxist Conceptualizations"-Electronic Reserve.
T 4/1 Screening, Bambi and Princess Mononoke.
W 4/2 Discussion: Animation; Ideology; Bambi and Princess Mononoke.
Read for Class: Readings on Bambi and Princess Mononoke- External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website; Ray, "The Culmination of Classic Hollywood: Casablanca"-Electronic Reserve; and Banks, "Bambi: a Boy's Story"-Electronic Reserve.
M 4/7 Lecture and Discussion: Documentary, Bias, and Truth.
Read for Class: PowerPoint Lecture, "Documentary, Bias, and Truth"-Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website; Film: an Introduction, 299-316 ("Documentary Films"); and An Introduction to Film Studies, 211-235 ("The Documentary Form-Personal and Social 'Realities').
T 4/8 Screening, Showdown in Seattle and Out: the Making of a Revolutionary.
W 4/9 Discussion: Documentary, Bias, and Truth; Showdown in Seattle and Out: the Making of a Revolutionary.
Read for Class: Readings on Showdown in Seattle and Out: the Making of a Revolutionary-Photocopies and External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 4/14 Screening, La Jetèe and Lecture and Discussion: Introduction to Experimental Film.
Read for Class: Film: an Introduction, 317-340 ("Experimental Films" and "Hybrid Films"); Readings on La Jetèe-Photocopies and External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website; and Additional Readings on Experimental Film, to Be Announced.
T 4/15 Screening, The Grin without a Cat.
W 4/16 Discussion: Experimental Film; La Jetèe and The Grin without a Cat.
Read for Class: Readings on La Jetèe and The Grin without a Cat- Photocopies and External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
M 4/21 No Class: Easter Break.
T 4/22 Screening, Blade Runner and Wings of Desire.
W 4/23 Discussion: Blade Runner; Wings of Desire; The Condition of the (Post)Modern and the Future of the Human.
Read for Class: Readings on Blade Runner and Wings of Desire- External Links on Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website, and Harvey, "Time and Space in the Postmodern Cinema"-Electronic Reserve.
No Classes. Group Project Presentations, English Festival, Irish Film Festival, and Jon Shear Prospective Campus Visit/Screening and Discussion/Workshop.
M 5/5 Lecture and Discussion: Other Screens and The Future of Moving-Image Culture.
Read for Class: The Critical Eye, 151-174; An Introduction to Film Studies, 13-58; Hill, "Film and Television" (Electronic Reserve); and Kipnis, "Film and Changing Technologies" (Electronic Reserve).
T 5/6 Screening: The Truman Show, The Celebration, and The Miniature Earth.
W 5/7 Discussion: Other Screens and The Future of Moving-Image Culture; The Truman Show, The Celebration, and The Miniature Earth.
Read for Class: On and Related to The Truman Show, The Celebration, and The Miniature Earth-Photocopies and External Links-Blackboard Electronic Classroom Website.
* Readings in the form of external (World Wide Web) links associated with specific titles screened in this course will be announced on our Blackboard electronic classroom website by the day these titles will be screened (at the latest). I will from time to time distribute other short readings directly related to specific screenings in the form of photocopied handouts at the Tuesday evening screening session itself. I will expect you to complete all of these readings between the end of each Tuesday night's screening session and the beginning of our discussion session the following Wednesday afternoon.
** I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do all required readings, and to complete these on time. Not only will you do much better, but also you will gain much more out of the course experience. In the event that students' lack of preparation for class discussion, due to failure to complete the required reading, becomes a problem, I will add weekly reading quizzes to the list of requirements for the course grade.
ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS
On Tuesday evenings we will screen films. We will take a brief break of 5 to 10 minutes between each screening. Students are welcome to bring pillows, blankets, and folding lounge chairs to use if you find these more comfortable than the classroom chairs. You may also bring snacks as long as you take care to eat and drink quietly as well as not to spill anything on the classroom carpet. Please note well that occasionally screening sessions will run longer than three and one-half hours, and occasionally they will run shorter; students are expected to stay through the end of screening sessions that run late, yet may leave as soon as screening sessions that run short end-the time commitment will all balance out in the end.
On Monday afternoons we will discuss a topic in film, video, and moving-image culture study based upon the assigned readings for the week. On Wednesday afternoons we will discuss the film or films screened the previous night. Frequently, I will show clips from the films screened the previous night as well as DVD extras to initiate and stimulate discussion. In the first half of our Monday afternoon discussion classes I will also, from time to time, show clips from other videos, DVDs, websites, CD-Roms, and DVD-Roms to help explain and illustrate key concepts.
I will direct our discussions, and, as useful, combine discussion with some extended comments and short, informal presentations of my own. However, I will always ask you to help out as I introduce and explain positions, concepts, methods, and practices. I plan to combine largely brief and informal presentations with extensive questioning of and discussion with students, following a changing variety of formats.
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS
I expect students in this course to seek to engage as critical students of film, and not as mere movie "fans"-nor as would-be Hollywood film technicians. Although I expect that students enrolled in this course do appreciate and enjoy watching films (as I most certainly do), and although I also suspect that a number of you may have already had some experience in film production or may wish to pursue this work in the future, as participants within this course students should be sincerely interested in learning about the critical study of film. In short, unless you are interested in going beyond merely (uncritically) appreciating and enjoying films, you should not be taking this course. I expect students in this course to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent. I expect students to strive to bring actively and extensively to bear-in your writing for class essays and your contributions to class discussion-insights you gain through your engagement with the films we screen, the required readings, and the topics these films and readings raise for our consideration. Finally, I expect students to let me know right away when and if you have any questions or problems in relation to any aspect of how you are doing with the course, so that I can do everything I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.
The English Department aims to provide you with an intellectually challenging education. This means we will often include texts and introduce topics in our courses that candidly explore adult issues, including ones that offer representations that may, on occasion, prove unsettling, disturbing, and even offensive to some of you.
The higher educational academy is not a "safe space" separate from the rest of the "real world" where you can expect to be sheltered from encountering anything you might find disagreeable or objectionable. On the contrary, we expect you to take up the challenge to confront these kinds of texts and topics in a mature, responsible way, and that means bringing directly to bear your negative reactions-including your reactions of shock, dismay, and discontent-in class discussions and in your writings and presentations for class. If you find a position or practice represented in a text or topic included in the assigned readings or screenings for class to be objectionable, it is therefore of crucial importance that you raise your objections openly and honestly, not simply claim personal exemption from having to see, hear, or talk, read, and write about these kinds of matters. After all, disturbing positions and practices exist extensively outside of the classroom as well as in what we read, see, hear, and otherwise confront in and for class; what we do confront in class exists in this institutional space as symptomatic of positions and practices that operate beyond the confines of the classroom, the course, and the university. If and when you find any text or topic genuinely appalling, you maintain the ethical responsibility, as a mature adult and as a responsible citizen, not simply to try to hide from these positions and practices but rather to work to critique and change them.
Students should expect therefore that you may well on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and no welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative authority) about their inclusion. Instead you should bring your objections forthrightly to bear in your contributions to class discussion. Finally, to conclude this particular point of discussion, a professor differs from a high school teacher in many respects, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from there to work toward their further development and dissemination. In short, we must create, advocate for, and profess these knowledges; you should expect that your professors may from time to time take strong and indeed controversial positions on difficult and challenging issues, eschewing the pretense of disinterested neutrality. To do anything less than assume this responsibility, and to do so with alacrity, would be to shirk our professorial responsibility and to render ourselves unworthy of maintaining our professorial position.
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE
In evaluating all work done for this course, I will take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently, enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts, issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and represented by the films, videos, and electronic texts we screen, the graphic texts we read, by me, and by each other.
This course cannot contribute effectively to your education as critical students of film if you do not attend class. What happens in class is an indispensable part of this course. I will take note of student attendance and therefore I expect students to adhere to the following attendance policy for this course:
Learning and Contribution
My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help you to learn something of significance and value; I will judge you to a significant degree on what you learn, how-and how hard-you strive to learn, and on how-as well as how well-you contribute to the learning for the rest of the class.
You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not contribute. If you don't contribute to the work of this class not only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and experience. In fact, to remain passively silent in class exploits the work of others who actively engage.
Class participation represents an important opportunity to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you have learned. By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas, taking risks and making mistakes you learn a great deal-and help others learn a great deal as well. You learn through talking, not just talk to show what you have learned. Don't hesitate to speak forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.
At the same time, just talking a great deal does not necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to the class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish. Quality of participation is much more important than quantity, although a sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality.
Quality class participation does not, moreover, involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions; quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers as well as with me about the texts and topics subject to discussion. Students should, therefore, be prepared to engage with and respond to each other in class discussion, and I will take particular note of how well you do so.
Contribution to the class certainly can extend far beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as the rest of us gain from the experience of this course. If you believe that you can make significant contributions to the success of our class in ways other than by speaking in our class meetings, please arrange to talk with me about this in a conference as early in the semester as possible. I will be glad to support these efforts if they seem potentially productive to me, but I need to know about them and to discuss with you what I think about them in order to endorse them. I certainly understand some people enter college better prepared and more confident speaking in class than others, but I would like to engage with what each one of you is thinking and feeling as we proceed through the semester, so if you tend to be somewhat shy in class, make up for this by coming to talk with me outside of class and by sending me questions and comments over e-mail.
I will ask you to prepare two learning and contribution reflection papers, demonstrating as well as critiquing your learning and contribution over the course of the preceding period of the semester.
I will give you specific instructions on what I would like you to address with each paper assignment, yet in each case I will ask that you: a.) explain key concepts in your own words, b.) apply these to the analysis of films screened in the course, c.) refer to and engage with the required reading, and d.) summarize and evaluate what you have learned as well as what, how, and how well you have contributed. You may here include thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to class discussions, as well as to the readings and screenings.
I ask that you type these papers, double-space, on singles sides of standard white letter (8" X 11") paper. Your margins should be standard-length, your name should be at the top of the first page, and you should staple the separate pages of the paper together before turning this in to me for a grade. You may use any standard font you prefer and your print size may range between 10 and 12 points. I also ask that you try to follow rules and conventions of Standard Written English as closely as possible; at the least, I expect you will strive to write clearly, precisely, and coherently. You will receive a higher grade the more cleanly and effectively you communicate your ideas.
Also, I would like you to make clear all sources to which you refer in your paper, including film titles, and to fully document any outside sources you use (sources other than those used in and assigned for this class). I recommend following MLA guidelines for proper documentation of outside sources, yet I will accept other formats as long as your documentation is adequately comprehensive and you follow a consistent documentation pattern.
You should aim for an approximate minimum average target length of approximately 2000 words per reflection paper (roughly the equivalent of eight double-spaced, typed pages). Each learning and contribution reflection paper will contribute significantly to your learning and contribution grade for the period of the semester the paper covers. The first learning and contribution grade will be worth 10% and the second 20% for a combined total of 30% of the overall course grade.
The Mid-Term Examination will take place in two parts, Tuesday evening March 11 and Wednesday afternoon March 12 in class. The Mid-Term exam will address key concepts covered, as well as films screened, through the first seven weeks of the course. Part One will run for two hours Tuesday evening the 11th, and will consist of a series of short response essays on questions related to the rescreening of a selection of clips from films screened in the first half of the Semester. Part Two will begin with the screening of a film over the course of the last 85 minutes of class on Tuesday evening March 11 (this will be a film not previously screened this semester in class). The next day, Wednesday afternoon March 12, students will write an extended essay in response to an assignment distributed, and the screening of a refresher clip from the preceding night's screening, at the beginning of this (Wednesday) class session. You may use any textbooks, photocopied handouts, notes, guides, outlines, et. al. you want as you write your short essays on Tuesday evening and your long essay on Wednesday afternoon. Parts One and Two of the Mid-Term Exam will each be worth 15% of the overall course grade, for a total of 30% of the overall course grade.
Group Projects and Class Conference
Early in the semester (by the end of the third or fourth week of classes), students will sign-up to participate in a project group; each group will involve no more than four students. Each group will work together from that point to prepare a group presentation in relation to two films: one selected by the group (subject to my approval) and one selected by the instructor. Each student group must select a film for which they can confidently argue on behalf of its artistic, historical, social, and/or political significance. (You may not select a film that we will screen in class as part of this course.) I will make suggestions of films to investigate and critique as well as help students obtain access to video and/or dvd copies.
Your group should research background information about the production, distribution, exhibition, and reception as well as study reviews and critiques of your two films in the course of developing your own critical analysis (including comparison and contrast) of the two. During the week of the annual English Festival (Monday 4/28 through Friday 5/2) each group will offer a public presentation of its research findings and critical analysis. Each group will have a maximum of forty-five minutes to offer its presentation and thirty-five minutes to engage with questions and comments in subsequent discussion of the group's presentation. The presentation should include a summary of the group's research findings, an elaboration of the group's own critical analysis, and an illustration of the group's key points by means of the screening of short clips from the films the group is addressing. These group project presentations will be open to the campus and surrounding communities. All members of the class are required to attend and actively contribute to the discussion of at least one other group's presentation beyond their own and will receive additional credit for doing this at more than one.
After students have signed up for a group you should meet in your groups to select the film upon which you yourselves wish to focus. You should do this as quickly as possible so that you can let me know which film you have chosen and so that I can then select the other film that I will ask you to address together with the film you have selected. My aim is for each group to know its two films by spring break-at the latest. Further details and helpful advice on the group project will be announced and explained in class. The group project will be worth 25% of the overall course grade, and all students in each group will receive the same grade their performance in this effort.
The final examination will be held on Tuesday 5/13 from 7 to 9 p.m. in HHH 321. For this exam, I will follow a similar format to that of the first part of the mid-term exam, once again rescreening short clips related to films, videos, and other moving-image culture texts screened during the last section of class and then asking you to write a series of short responses to questions related to these clips. This will, once again, be an "open-book" examination. The final examination will be worth 15% of the overall course grade.
Extra Credit Opportunities
1. Attendance and Active Participation:
a.) At more than one other student group project presentation. (As indicated above, all students are required to attend at least one besides their own, but may obtain extra credit for attending more than this and by actively engaging in discussion with the groups after their presentations.) Up to a Maximum of 5% Extra Credit.
b.) As part of a Combined Film Classes Field Trip (with English 190, Section 001; English 381 ("Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture: Auteur Theory-Hitchcock, the French New Wave, and Dogme 95"); and Honors 304 ("Introduction to World Cinema") to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Saturday April 12th. Further details will be announced in class, and students will have an opportunity to sign up to join this field trip by the end of March at the latest. 5% Extra Credit.
c.) At UWEC Irish Film Festival screenings and other related events (the Irish Film Festival will run some time between F 4/25 and Sn 5/4-specific titles, days, times, and venues to be announced). 2.5% Extra Credit.
d.) At a prospective screening and subsequent talk as well as class workshop given by independent film maker Jon Shear (director of Urbania), if we succeed in bringing him to campus (this will most likely take place during the period from 4/25-5/4 as well). 5% Extra Credit.
e.) For helping out with the production of the Irish Film Festival. 5% Extra Credit.
2. Writing an Analytical Paper or Discussing with me in an Extended Interview Conference any three films screened as part of the weekly film series on campus sponsored by UAC (University Activities Commission) Films and the IFC (the International Film Committee)-and/or at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. You may arrange an interview discussion conference together with up to three fellow classmates if you wish. 7.5% Extra Credit.
Note well that students have the opportunity to earn up to 30% worth of extra credit.
THE GOALS OF THE BACCALAUREATE
This university is, as many of you know, a liberal arts institution; education in the liberal arts (and sciences) represents the historic and central commitment of what we do together on this UW campus-not vocational training and pre-professional development. The university administration and faculty support this commitment so strongly that they have asked that all syllabi elaborate the official goals of the baccalaureate, as well as identify which ones the course in question will help you achieve. According to the UWEC administration, the baccalaureate degree shall work to develop the following for UWEC students:
UWEC strives to help you meet these objectives in the course of the higher education you pursue here. Please note that in making these our foremost aims, we at UWEC clearly distinguish ourselves from technical colleges as well as from all other UW schools, especially places like Stout, River Falls, and Stevens Point. This section of English 190 will help contribute to you meeting goals 1-4, 6, and 9-11.
I encourage you to meet with me in conference during office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any issue of interest or concern related to what we are doing in this course. Learning that takes place in conferences can at times be equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important, than what takes place in class. Please do not hesitate to meet with me during office hours or to ask for an appointment at any time you think this might be helpful; I regard making myself available for conferences with you outside of class to be an indispensable part of my responsibility as your teacher. Moreover, I always sincerely do welcome getting to know and work with my students outside as well as inside of class. I am ready to do whatever I can to help you in your understanding of issues addressed in discussions, readings, and screenings, as well as to help you in your writing for and participation in this course. I want to make sure that I do all that I can to help you succeed in this course and I want to help you, as far as I can, to gain as much out of it as possible through your participation in and work for it. You may also feel free to write me via e-mail, and to call me-or leave a message for me on the answering machine-at my office. I enjoy meeting and working with students outside as well as inside of class; I really do. I would rather talk with you during my office hours than do anything else, so please do not worry about "disturbing" me in coming to talk with me; my office hours are time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work with you. PLEASE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY! And, remember, once again, taking the time to meet and talk with me periodically in conference is a great way to contribute to the class.
I strive to be as responsible and as accountable to my students as possible. I believe it is crucial that students become aware of the ideas and the values which shape and direct their education, and I believe students should expect that all of their teachers will be prepared to explain why they teach as they do. Please, therefore, take the time, as early as you can this semester, to read through and think carefully about my "Statement of Teaching Philosophy" that I have posted on my UWEC faculty website:
This statement explains WHY I teach as I do. I think it is extremely important that you know and understand where your teachers are coming from in teaching you as they do. You will find me one who trusts you sufficiently always to be frank and honest about this with you.
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